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Actress-comedian sings her song - 36 years after losing it to Streisand

It's been a long time coming, but Kaye Ballard, the actress and comedian, is finally getting to sing "My Coloring Book," the song that was popularized by Barbra Streisand but that Ballard said was actually written for her 36 years ago.

She performed it at a luncheon given by the New Dramatists at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan in honor of John Kander and Fred Ebb, who wrote the song."Fred Ebb and I were very close friends, and he brought it to me," she said. "I suggested to Nick Vanoff, the producer of `The Perry Como Show' on television that I was on, that I sing it. He said: `No, no. You do comedy; you do not sing.' "

Instead, she said: "Sandy Stewart, a singer on the show, performed it, and Barbra Streisand got the rights to it and recorded it." Then, she said, she asked Ebb to write her another song and to call it "Maybe This Time." But that song became associated with Liza Minnelli.

"I went on to other things, but I think those songs could have changed my career," she said. But her voice brightened: "As long as you're alive, you're still a phone call away from being hot again."

Recently Ballard, who has been performing in "No, No, Nanette" at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J., began rehearsing "My Coloring Book." "I couldn't get through it," she said. "I cried all the way through."